An inspirational “idol,” a fanciful spirit to lift our emotions during these chaotic times?A fashion statement we should check out before heading out to a late-night romantic get-together? Or are the Popovy Sisters, human-like dolls out of Russia swirling through the transitory gloss of fashion magazines, a mere moment in time? Admittedly flashy, but still a brief fad? Let’s first give them their fashion cred. Very hot, at the moment, these posable dolls created by twin sisters in Russia (highly-imaginative and ingenious ones), are not only being collected by fashion stars. Jean Paul Gaulthier, Louis Vuitton, and other fashionistas have fallen into a swoon over these Popovies. They are also spurring design trends throughout the world–soon, judging by their raging appeal, maybe even on other planets.They just have that special, undefinable WOW factor. It could be that they are ball-jointed, made from the highest quality materials, and are available in all sorts of complexions–to make them more “human.” All that makes very relatable, fantasies that resemble models.
Illustrative of their gorgeousness, those features that bring them sweeping into our consciousness, they’re on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram–and didn’t we see them in the tabloid gossip pages last week, dishing, talking about….They’re also big money makers. Very big! Could they become more larger than life? At this point anything is possible. Even a movie deal or two–which actress would accept such a Lilliputian role? To discover what’s all the fuss about, LSA discussed Popovy’s fame and fortune with their creators, Lena and Katya Popovy–the twins who have built the world’s most sensational–and bestselling–dollhouse.
LSA: What do you think is the reason behind the dolls becoming a phenomenon?
E&K: That’s because doll became more than dolls, they’re entering the area of art and that they are merging with fashion. So, people are way more interested than they used to be. Dolls have become idols for many people, enough to where people want to look like dolls.
LSA: What are you doing to expand the success of dolls?
E&K: We have no goal to change anything. We make what we find exciting, something that gives us passion and excitement. As fashion designers we create characters.
LSA: A question about the characters, why do many of the dolls look sad or upset?
E&K: They aren’t sad, they’re calm. If you look at photos of children you see that in the photos, they look serious and they aren’t sad they’re being the way they are, that can include the thinking process and so on. This is not sadness; you can look at it as a moment in life if you were to press pause in some fragment of life.
LSA: What gives the doll true life, the facial colours, the lingerie, the hairstyle?
E&K: It’s a combination of everything. It starts with the sculpture itself, everything is hand sculpted we don’t use any 3D technology. As said earlier because it’s a combination of everything it starts from the sculpture and finishing with the wig, it’s the whole image that makes them alive.
LSA: Which means you make everything yourselves including things like the wigs, the lingerie, everything that comes with the dolls?
E&K: Yes, absolutely everything, all designs you see is made by us, everything by hand
LSA: Whose idea was it to come up with that, was it Eelena or Katyia? Who came with that idea with the dolls?
E&K: We got this idea simultaneously many years ago we visited a doll exhibition and realised that dolls can give endless freedom in creating everything we want, to use dolls as models to create different characters. Plus, it’s a lot easier to work with than humans because here we’re in charge of everything which gives us absolute creative freedom, so it was our common idea to make these dolls.
LSA: What is the aesthetic idea behind the dolls?
E&K: We want to show the body in the most natural way. It’s not about erotica or sex, we want to show the body in all beauty like the universe creating everything. That’s the reason why we don’t use 3D technology to mould the dolls, we want to feel the material in our hands, there is a need to translate the human touch to the material. It’s a big part of our overall aesthetics is to keep that natural feel.
LSA: What kind of material do you use for those dolls?
E&K: When we make prototypes we use a different material for the body and head sculpts. For the body, we use self baking plastic
LSA: The dolls are looking almost human but when you’re looking at the body they look like imperfections, why are they markable like that?
Z&K: Because that’s how nature is, everything has its own imperfection in nature. There is no symmetry on the human body or tree as such, there’s always some kind of imperfection here and there also if they have tiny imperfection on their body it done on purpose because if you make a problem on the computer it’ll still be perfect so when you hold it by hand you get that human touch. If someone can think of any human feature as imperfections like a scar, bigger ears or anything like that someone may think of these as disadvantages but we make those features as an advantage something interesting for someone to have because that’s how nature made everyone.
LSA: What’s the most difficult aspect of sculping those dolls?
E&K: Sculpting the face is the most difficult part but at the same time is the most interesting part, we spend a lot of time sculpting it as it’s very exciting because it’s like the main part of creating the character.
LSA: When you were younger was there anything that inspired you to do what you do today?
E&K: We were highly involved in a lot of aspects of art from painting, sewing, paper dolls creating characters back then, oil paints anything you can imagine. When we were very younger, we were given pencils and we ended drawing all over the walls.
LSA: I know you collaborate with music groups like Necrotic Trust is it important with your marketing?
E&K: Usually they write to us like grimes, she wrote to us to create the doll for her upcoming album and singles. They also contacted us about some secret stuff right now, but you’ll see it when it comes out. For marketing its quite useful but we never approach artists ourselves, usually, they make the first move. Also working with music artists is not the best, they are very difficult people.
LSA: Just like artists, the same. I can see you worked with Jean Paul Gaultier, did you work with other designers/celebrities?
E&K: Michael Costello made an outfit collection for our dolls which were made around two years ago. As for Jean Paul Gaultier commissioned us two dolls and he said we have full creative freedom to create whatever we want he just gave us certain guidelines that he would like to be wanted to see like golden joints and other little things but aside from that full creative freedom. He liked the results very much.
LSA: What is femineity to the sisters, and how do the dolls mirror that allur, seduction, etc?
E&K: Initially we made feminine dolls, they’re tinny, fragile, very gentle and to protect them they wear very aggressive outfits, and the outfits are like armour sometimes for example corsets made of metal. So, it’s like this contrast of this fragility and femininity with this aggressive and strong image that the outfits give to the dolls. So, if you wanted to hurt them you wouldn’t.
LSA: How come there isn’t any inspiration from Russia in your collection?
E&K: Well, there is a different huge collection that was inspired by Russian culture. With the collection we only scratched the surface because it can go a lot deeper, you can say it was almost like a preview so you can see what can be done within this area.
LSA: What is your proudest collection or doll?
E&K: We don’t have a doll or collection that we can highlight as the best one. If we make something, we’ll make it to our best or else you just wouldn’t see what we make if we don’t feel that way. Even on commissioned dolls, we put our passion and skill into it and truly love each doll we make so we can’t really tell you which one would be.
LSA: All phenomena end—do you have plans for another artistic effort?
E&K: Yes, there would be fashion design for human, we are trained fashion designer and graduated from university for it. Also maybe create characters in movies if possible.
LSA: Do you think with the dolls you could make a video of them walking on a runway as a project?
E&K: We actually have this kind of video. It was made by Chiara Ferragini she is an Italian vision artist, she used to work in the movie ghost in the shell. So, she made this kind of video where our dolls are on a runway.
LSA: How many dolls do you per year, I know you do a small collection of around 10-15 handmade dolls per year but is that for the retail or yourselves as a collection?
E&K: It’s really hard to count because there are a lot of commission dolls. We used to make two collections per year. If speaking of one of a kind dolls it’s around 15 dolls per year, and this is how our plans are going where we stopped taking commissions and switched to making the one of a kind dolls. The first one of a kind dolls will be present around this spring.
LSA: Could you tell me about the lady rat, could you tell me about that project a bit?
E&K: This doll was made from the inspiration of Landy. Die Antwoord which is a senior that is in the band Die Antwoord so several years ago they reposted our doll on their Instagram and we got talking, we ended up saying that we can make dolls inspired by your faces, so we made two one of a kind dolls for that project. They were very happy with those dolls and also, they requested to design a dress for their movie that will be out someday, it’s a very ongoing collaboration. We already made the dress that is on their Instagram page that you can view.
LSA: Does every doll have a story?
E&K: When we make the dolls that are one of a kind or dolls for a collaboration those dolls have their certain magic/stories. For example, when we made the new collection, we spent a lot of time gathering information about the team that we have chosen and when we made the doll, they, of course, have their stories. We are now preparing for our collection of the feathered serpent that will be out later this year that is dedicated to enlightened beings. There is a big story about it.
LSA: Do you think we could get a little insight into the feathered serpent collection?
E&K: So, this collection is important to us, it’s been quite a while since we started to work on it and taking it slow because we want this to be very special. This feathered serpent symbolises the ultimate being that is enlightened, that is this final stage of evolvement. Like the life has fully blossomed and the conscious is fully enlighted in life. This is just in general on a broad spectrum.
Written by Kamila Krzyzaniak